GUATEMALA: Digging and DNA for Truth, 30 Years Later
two articles about the FAFG (Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation), and their work to exhume (dig up) mass graves and then use DNA sampling to help positively identify the victims.
For many years, Rights Action has been an honored funder of the FAFG.
The FAFG (Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation) reports:
From: Marte Myhre Tunheim [firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Subject: FAFG News: Victims of Forced Disappearance Identified by DNA
We are happy to be able to share with you the excellent news connected to the work of the FAFG. The first two victims of forced disappearances, registered in the secret "Death Squad Registry", have been identified, almost three decades after their disappearance. It's still a long way to go, but this is a significant step forward in the work for identifying victims from Guatemala's conflict! Please share with anyone that may be interested!
Marte Myhre Tunheim, Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation
E X T R A O R D I N A R Y N E W S L E T T E R
- N O V E M B E R, 2011 -
The FAFG is a scientific non-governmental organization that contributes to the strengthening of the justice system and to the respect of human rights through the investigation, documentation, dissemination, education and awareness-raising regarding the historic violations of the right to life and the cases of non-clarified deaths. The FAFG produces expert reports and conducts scientific investigations, applying both forensic and social sciences at a national and international level.
FIRST IDENTIFICATIONS OF VICTIMS REGISTERED IN THE "DEATH SQUAD DIARY"
The FAFG and the victims' families went public on November 22, 2011 with the names of the two first identifications made of victims of forced disappearances registered in the "Death Squad Diary" from the 80s.
Of all those families still searching for their loved ones, those that today finally will have a grave to visit are the families of: Sergio Saúl Linares Morales and Amancio Samuel Villatoro.
The two families contacted the FAFG to give their DNA samples for comparison against the victims' DNA in the Victims and Families' National Gene Bank of Forced Disappearances, and the software came up with a match to both families.
It turned out the bodies of both Sergio and Amancio were found at the former Comalapa Military Detachment, in an exhumation that recovered 220 skeletal remains. Both remains were found in the same grave together with four other bodies, and in the Death Squad Diary they are listed with the same execution date; March 24, 1984. The identifications were confirmed by DNA comparison and forensic anthropologic analysis.
REMAINS OF TWO OF GUATEMALA'S "DEATH SQUAD DIARY" VICTIMS FOUND IN MASS GRAVE FAFG (Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala) identifies them through DNA
Washington, D.C., November 22, 2011 - The bodies of two men whose disappearance in 1984 was recorded in the notorious Guatemalan "death squad diary" have been located on a former military base outside the capital and positively identified through DNA testing, according to the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, which announced its findings in a press conference this morning.
The remains belong to Amancio Samuel Villatoro and Sergio Saúl Linares Morales, both captured by security forces in separate incidents and never seen by their families again. Nothing about their fates was known until 1999, when the National Security Archive publicly released the death squad diary, a military logbook created in the mid-1980s to record the abduction, secret detention and deaths of scores of people, Villatoro and Linares among them. In their entries, the document contains a coded reference to their executions. Today, 27 years after their disappearance and 12 years after the publication of the logbook, that information has been confirmed.
"It is an astonishing development in a case that has come to symbolize the impunity and injustice that persist in Guatemala 15 years after its bloody civil conflict ended," commented Kate Doyle, National Security Archive Senior Analyst. Among the 200,000 civilians killed during the war, there were an estimated 40,000 victims of forced disappearance - men, women and children seized in the cities and conflictive zones by state security or paramilitary forces, interrogated, tortured and secretly executed, their bodies dumped in remote sites or buried in mass graves. Few of the remains of the disappeared have ever been found and only three cases have led to prosecutions resulting in the conviction of former military or police officers.
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